Steps to 100%
A Guide to Achieving All Renewable Energy in Your Town
Every community has its own unique opportunities and challenges when working for 100% clean, renewable energy (RE). Here are five general steps to help guide your community toward setting and implementing a 100% RE goal.
1) Build a Team
Reach out to people in your community to work with you towards a 100% goal. You might start with friends who share your vision, activists you know, and local chapters of climate or social justice groups (like Sierra Club, 350.org and Citizens Climate Lobby). Hold a meeting to set your goals, make a plan and divide up tasks. It is helpful to have volunteer experts to advise your team and a decision-maker to champion your effort from the inside. Meeting with them early in the process can go a long way to understanding the relationships, other issues at play, and politics that will influence the process.
2) Decide Your Policy Ask and Plan
There are now over 20 cities around the country with 100% RE goals, and three of those are in Michigan! Most of those goals are community-wide, not only for city operations, and while many focus on electricity, more and more communities are also including heating and transportation in their 100% RE goals. It is good to look at what is going to work best given the realities in your community, and it is also important to take bold action when setting 100% RE goals. Is your city one of the 40 communities in Michigan with a municipal utility? If so, it may be easier for your community to work for a community-wide 100% RE goal.
There are many ways your community can set a 100% RE goal. The mayor can sign a proclamation or your local government can pass a resolution, ordinance or set the goal in your local climate action plan or master plan. See our Michigan 100% Cities Toolkit below for examples and sample language.
3) Research and Build Your Case
Getting to 100% RE is realistic, achievable, and brings many local benefits. It is important to be able to explain this to the public and decision makers with facts and examples from other communities. The fact sheets and other resources in our Toolkit are a good place to start.
You should study up on the legislative processes in your town or city to understand who can introduce a resolution and how the process works. Research community-specific data, like the energy demand and emissions of your community, in order to understand and explain what it will take to get your community to 100% RE. Many communities have climate action plans or sustainability plans with this information, and if your community does not, you may want to add the creation of a plan in your ask. While many communities set bold 100% RE goals and then come up with a plan to get there, it is helpful to first identify some specific steps to move towards 100% RE, and funding strategies to help get there.
4) Engage Stakeholders and the Community
Effective engagement of community members and key stakeholders early in the process is critical to successful 100% RE goals, and to prevent and overcome local opposition.
- Meet with members of your local city council (or other governing body) and build relationships. You have a much better chance of passing your goal if it is seen as a joint effort. Try to meet with every member to listen to any concerns they may have, and share information on the benefits and achievability of 100% RE. Don’t forget to count your votes and make sure it will pass.
- Engage stakeholders that will be impacted by the goal and get their input - like the electric utility, major employers, neighborhood associations, and colleges and universities.
- It is important to engage the public through information sessions and media outreach.
- Meet with key government staff (like the city manager), as their support is often key to getting this done. Be a resource to them and offer to draft language and provide facts, as they often have a lot on their plates.
- Consider bringing strong messengers to events, like business leaders, energy experts, and mayors that have led successful 100% RE efforts in other cities. Traverse City activists brought in former Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell for a community forum and a meeting with local officials to share his experiences with the Grand Rapids 100% RE goal.
5) Pass your Goal, Celebrate, and Stay Engaged
The devil is in the details, and it is important to make sure a good policy is drafted and passed. Good policies include things like setting clear timelines, designating a green team or energy office to implement the goals, and promoting local generation of RE so that you get the most benefits locally. The Michigan 100% Cities Toolkit has examples and sample resolution language you can use.
Once your 100% RE goal passes, be sure to thank everyone who helped you get there, including publicly thanking all the decision makers and staff. Celebrating your victory helps build support and momentum for further progress on renewable energy, and gets the word out about 100% RE to other communities. Then stay engaged to help get this goal implemented and move our state towards 100% RE!
Download this citizen's guide: Steps to 100% Renewable Energy, Customizable 2 page fact sheet, Catalog of MI Climate Plans, and list of municipal utility cities.
Here are examples of other community 100% goals passed.
Grand Rapids 100% Goal in the City Sustainability Plan (the most recent draft)
Read more about how to get to 100% renewable goals and how other cities have done the same.